The big deciding factor could be simple: Ohio State played for their conference championship and beat a previously undefeated team, while Alabama was at home this week after Auburn took the SEC West crown in the Iron Bowl last weekend.
The game went down to the wire, but the Buckeyes did just enough to hold off the Badgers thanks in part to a gutty performance from quarterback JT Barrett and one last final stand by the Ohio State defense on the game-defining drive, thanks to an interception with just over a minute remaining. Taylor needs 120 yards rushing to break Adrian Peterson's national freshman record (1,925) and 194 yards to reach the 2,000-yard mark.
"We deserve a shot", Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told reporters after the game of his team's Playoff likelihood.
That would not be the case however, as the Ohio State offense stalled for the entirety of the second half.
But detractors will argue both of Ohio State's losses came in rather lopsided fashion, including 55-24 to Iowa.
What is there left to debate after the conference championship?
And unlike Ohio State, the Nittany Lions and the Cardinal each had one loss by single digits.
Alabama has victories against three teams that made the most recent top 25: No. 17 LSU, No. 23 Mississippi State, and No. 25 Fresno State. 2 Oklahoma and a 31-point road loss to Iowa. Barrett, according to published reports, had arthroscopic surgery last Sunday to clean up a torn meniscus. It's not certain if or how much he'll play, but backup Dwayne Haskins performed well in Barrett's absence against MI and shouldn't be discounted if he's called into action again. Barrett absorbed his first significant contact while being tackled during a third-down scramble on Ohio State's opening possession but popped right up without any apparent discomfort.
Wisconsin's defense countered that miscue shortly after when Van Ginkel stepped in front of Barrett's poor throw deep in Ohio State territory and returned it nine yards for a touchdown. Denzel Ward was every bit of a future first-round draft pick, recording two passes defensed to go along with his first quarter interception. Following the 2016 season, Clemson returned the favor with a 35-31 victory that came on Deshaun Watson's 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with 1 second remaining. They were sitting at No. 6 in the first CFP ranking of the season and had chances to move up with Michigan State, Michigan and a potential Big Ten title game waiting on the schedule.
The lead swung back to the Buckeyes courtesy of Barrett's 57-yard toss to running back Parris Campbell, who broke multiple tackles to score his third receiving touchdown of the season and conclude the scoring in a riveting first quarter.
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